TAMPA — University of South Florida medical school dean Stephen Klasko has dropped his bid for a high-profile job at University of Nebraska.
Klasko, 59, did not specify why he was "regretfully withdrawing" from contention to be the next chancellor at University of Nebraska Medical Center. His decision came the same day he was questioned about a curious issue with his resumes:
He keeps changing the years he ran marathons.
"I made the decision to withdraw my candidacy in Nebraska after careful consideration with my family over the weekend," Klasko said in a statement released Wednesday evening. "My decision has nothing to do with these questions about my marathon history."
On the curriculum vitae he sent Nebraska, Klasko listed under "personal interests" his completed marathons, which included the Chicago Marathon (2000); New York City Marathon (2003) and Marine Corps Washington, D.C., Marathon (2005).
But an older version of his CV, posted on USF's website, lists Chicago as 1997, New York as 2000 and the Marine Crops as 2003. An even earlier version, just before he came to USF in 2004, says he ran Chicago in 1990, New York in 1992 and Marine Corps in 1993.
So how can someone be off by nearly a decade about the dates he ran 26.2 miles? Klasko, an avid runner who has had multiple knee surgeries, put it this way:
"I am proud of the fact that I have run seven marathons and several half-marathons. At various times, I have included half-marathons and 10-milers on my CV when asked about my running," Klasko said in a statement. "Those many dates apparently got confused, which is unfortunate, when updating these CVs. As dean of the College of Medicine, I believe that fitness is important, and my running history shows I lead by example."
Klasko also lists different years for his completions of the Dublin Marathon (1999, 2005 and 2007) and the Taylor Wineglass Marathon (1991, 1995 and 1999). He also listed two different dates (2008 and 2010) for the Connemara/Galway Marathon.
The oldest dates appear to be the most accurate. The Tampa Bay Times verified with organizers of two of the larger races — Chicago and New York — that Klasko completed those marathons on the earliest dates listed. He ran Chicago in 1990, with a time of 4 hours and 24 minutes. He ran New York in 1992 with a time of 4 hours and 11 minutes. Klasko also provided a photograph of his 1993 Marine Corps marathon T-shirt.
USF Health's media department on Tuesday afternoon fielded marathon-related questions from an Omaha World-Herald reporter. On Tuesday night, Klasko notified University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken of his decision to withdraw.
Melissa Lee, a spokeswoman for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said she had not heard about the discrepancies until Wednesday morning when she was contacted by the Omaha World-Herald. She said Nebraska medical school officials had no comment.
Klasko was one of four finalists for the job. In a statement Wednesday, he said he had withdrawn from his bid "with mixed emotions and sincere appreciation for the honor of being considered for one of academic medicine's premier opportunities."
The statement also quoted Milliken: "While I am disappointed that Dr. Klasko has withdrawn from the search, I understand his decision and continue to believe we have an excellent pool of finalists for this important leadership position at the University of Nebraska."
Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he was relieved to hear Klasko was no longer in the running for the Nebraska job. "That's good news," he said. "I didn't try to talk him out of it. But we need him here."
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.